Agnes's Feed
Oct 28, 2011
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The Avon lady needs to look in the mirror

By Agnes T. Crane
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

The Avon lady needs to look in the mirror. Andrea Jung may be a powerful figure in U.S. business, but the chief executive of the $8 billion Avon Products has twice failed to turn the cosmetics company around. Never mind the federal probe into possible wrongdoing, Avon’s performance has been dismal.

Oct 28, 2011
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U.S. housing has added problem: mortgage insurance

By Agnes T. Crane
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

There’s a growing chorus among U.S. legislators to get the government out of the housing business. That’s understandable given the possible $311 billion bill that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may rack up for taxpayers, according to a Federal Housing Finance Agency estimate on Thursday. But the recent failure of PMI Group’s mortgage insurance business is a reminder that chunks of housing’s private sector need fixing, too.

Oct 11, 2011
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Embattled Wall Street should prepare for worse

By Agnes T. Crane and Christopher Swann
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

There seems to be no end to bad news for bankers. They’re already on the defensive. Third-quarter earnings look set to be shoddy. Another 10,000 job cuts may be in the offing. And protesters are ready to camp outside Jamie Dimon’s house. Yet financials still haven’t shrunk enough, suggesting more pain is to come.

Oct 3, 2011
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U.S. government has chance to borrow very long

By Agnes T. Crane
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Orson Welles once hawked Californian wine using the tagline: “Paul Masson will sell no wine before its time.” The same could be said about the U.S. Treasury and 50 or 100-year bonds. Maybe it’s finally the right moment to actually sell some.

Sep 29, 2011
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U.S. money markets lose scale but not power

By Agnes T. Crane
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Fast cars and fast money can go to the heads of traders. U.S. money market funds are a vehicle for pretty cautious investors, but the managers have a dizzying $2.5 trillion to play with. The Federal Reserve is raising concerns that they’re driving way too fast.

Sep 26, 2011
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Berkshire buyback a move best left to Buffett

By Agnes T. Crane and Robert Cyran
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Warren Buffett isn’t too old to try something new. His Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate is buying back an unlimited amount of both classes of shares, at up to a 10 percent premium over book value. Investors like to copy what Buffett does, but stock repurchases are best left to the Oracle of Omaha. If shares of other companies were truly undervalued, Berkshire probably wouldn’t be buying its own.

Sep 22, 2011
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United Tech’s $16.5 bln buy relies on debt markets

By Agnes T. Crane
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

United Technologies is catching a break from lenders. The 47 percent premium built into the $16.5 billion the U.S. industrial group is paying for the shares of aerospace specialist Goodrich makes the price look over-generous, especially amid gloomy stock markets. But cheap debt should make the deal easier to swallow.

Sep 19, 2011
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Tyco sets new example for conglomerate bondholders

By Agnes T. Crane
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Shareholders appreciate a good breakup story and Tyco is giving them more to love. The industrial manufacturing group dismantled itself into three parts in 2007. Now, one of them, Tyco International, is being carved into three more pieces. The company’s shares gained on Monday amid a broad market selloff. But while equity investors often see value in a less sprawling conglomerate, the same isn’t always true for bondholders.

Sep 13, 2011

Buffett’s new wannabe doesn’t have money problems

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.)

By Agnes T. Crane

NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) – Warren Buffett tapped another relatively unknown investment manager to help shepherd Berkshire Hathaway’s massive stock market holdings. Ted Weschler’s investment record is impressive — returning 1,236 percent in 11 years. But it may have been his attitude to personal wealth that gave him a spot in the relay race to replace Buffett.

Sep 6, 2011
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Market worries and volatility will outlast summer

By Agnes T. Crane and Richard Beales
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Investors who spent August on the beach were fortunate to miss a bout of rollercoaster trading. And they will be rested for the next round, a taste of which came on Friday. The concerns behind the last volatile patch still haven’t been addressed. European debt trouble, the weakness of U.S. economic growth — underlined by the zero jobs created in August — and political conflict spell more wild rides.